Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Man Fatally Shot by Police After His Parents Called For Mental Health Help

A couple called the mental health crisis line for help when their son was experiencing a bipolar episode earlier this month. Instead of receiving help, however, police showed up at their door and fatally shot their son.

Prior to that, their son, 40-year-old Yong Yang – who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 15 years ago -, had locked himself in his parents’ apartment holding a knife.

According to newly released bodycam footage, he was shot and killed less than 10 seconds after police entered the home. In the video, which has since been uploaded to YouTube, the officer can be seen telling Yang to drop the knife. Before he can comply, however, he is fatally shot.

yong yang
Yong Yang was fatally shot when officers arrived at the apartment

Yang’s mother, Myung Sook Yang, said she had reached out to the L.A. County Department of Mental Health the morning of the incident after her son’s mental health declined. While a psychiatric team responded to the call, however, they had also notified the police, who would later arrive at the home.

According to her and her husband, Min Yang, their son had been hearing voices and had secluded himself in the apartment.

Min Yang said his son was just ‘trying to protect himself’ after ‘people [tried to] barge in’.

The Los Angeles Mental Health Department declined to comment on the incident but said in a statement that they will sometimes request support from law enforcement depending on the circumstances.

The statement said their teams ‘are trained and capable of de-escalating mental health crisis’s without police involvement’ but that they will sometimes contact law enforcement ‘if the individual remains an immediate threat to themselves or others.’

The Los Angeles Police Department and Andres Lopez, the officer who fatally shot Yang, also declined to comment.

In 2021, Lopez had shot a man who was in possession of a replica firearm. However, the district attorney later determined that he had acted in self-defense.

According to Yang’s parents, their son had started to talk to himself the day prior to the shooting. While the behavior continued into the following day, however, he was never violent.

bodycam In the bodycam footage, however, a clinician told officers on the phone that the man had become violent. He said his parents only called the department because he became ‘aggressive and violent’. He also said that Yang had ‘threatened him’ causing him to ‘stand away.’

According to Police Captain Kelly Muniz, the clinician in the video also said that Yang was shouting and talking to himself at his parents’ apartment the day before the shooting, which led his parents to leave the home.

However, Min Yang said his son was never physically violent – not on the night before nor at the time of the shooting. He said his son just wanted to be alone and that he had shut off the blinds as that’s how ‘he protects himself.’ He and his wife subsequently left the apartment to give him space.

yong yang parents
Yong Yang’s parents appeared at a news conference with their attorney on May 10

According to the county medical examiner’s report, Yang died of multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead once the fire department arrived at the scene.

Min Yang admitted that he never thought officers would resort to firing their guns so quickly. He had given police the keys to their apartment so that they could help with the situation ‘peacefully and quickly’. He had assumed they would take him to the hospital after calming him down.

The couple are now calling for an independent investigation.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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